9. Mayland Community College
A 9-1 student-faculty ratio, low tuition and high retention rate landed Mayland Community College in Spruce Pine, N.C., a spot on our list of top community colleges, but the school also gets high marks for its emphasis on teaching soft skills in addition to providing technical and academic education.
"(We treat education) like a job. At a job, you just don't say, 'Well I don't feel like going today' or 'I'm going to be late,'" says Mayland President John Boyd, adding that the school maintains attendance and tardiness policies. "Students need to understand that there's no less expectation of their behavior at school as there would be in the workforce."
With more than 10,000 credit and noncredit students, the school is robust enough to support 27 academic and technical programs spread across the main Spruce Pine campus and two satellite learning centers. Nursing, electronics engineering, cosmetology, welding and horticulture are the most popular programs, says Boyd. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that the average Mayland student receives more than $4,600 in federal, state, local and institutional grant aid.